Trends. Isn’t it odd to think such a word is a tool used in literature? To judge by the popularity of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, a change in themes has arrived to include strong female characters, and magical communities and creatures. While magic and strong female protagonists are current themes, readers will also expand their knowledge of notable women who made history in a non-fiction format! Fiction, too, has brought forth the Marvel and DC Superhero universe of girls and women who face problems and intelligently find solutions. Science, through the STEM curriculum, which represents a problem-based approach to teaching science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, is featured in many fiction, non-fiction, and activity books. The trends of the year may encourage you to put a few of the following titles at the top of your child’s reading list.
Calling All Minds: How to Think and Create Like an Inventor by Temple Grandin. Children who love hands-on projects and seek to think outside the box will enjoy this book. It also includes information about various scientists and inventors. (Ages 8+)
Rad Girls Can: Stories of Bold, Brave, and Brilliant Young Women by Kate Schatz. A compilation of the inspiring stories of 49 girls under the age of 20 from around the world. Readers will read about girls from the 6th to the twenty-first centuries. (Ages 10+)
The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare by Shannon and Dean Hale: In a STEM-based setting, this sixth book in the series confronts the main character, the Princess in Black, with a problem. This series promotes girls who are fearless, quick thinkers. (Ages 5+)
Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters: The Questioneers, Book 1by Andrea Betty. Young Readers may already know the collection of books titled Ada Twist,Scientist and Rosie Revere, Engineer. Combining these two books introduces TheQuestioneersseries, featuring female characters and STEM themes of science exploration. (Ages 6+)
The Isle of the Lost: Graphic Novel, The Descendants, by Melissa de la Cruz: Encased in a magic bubble twenty years ago, the villains of the Disney world must determine how to live on “the Isle of the Lost.” Complemented by pictures, the story offers antagonists the opportunity to learn from mistakes, establish friendship and work as a team. (Ages 8+)
Snared, Escape to the Above (Wily Snare Series, Book 1)by Adam Jay Epstein: Wily Snare has never seen the sun. He lives underground and creates traps such as scorpion nets, chopping blades, and pressure points to keep treasure seekers away from the dungeon. Children will enjoy this captivating novel featuring themes of trust, friendship, loyalty, sticky problems, and teamwork. (Ages 8+)
Time Jumpers (Five Kingdoms, Book 5)by Brandon Mull. Cole and his friends are ready to save the Outskirts from utter destruction, but will they be able to accomplish this and still return home to Earth permanently? Fortunately for readers, Time Jumpers is the final book of the series. In addition to the creative design of the five different kingdoms, readers will cheer for the characters as each problem is solved. (Ages 9+)
The Third Mushroom by Jennifer L. Holm. A sequel to the book, The FourteenthGoldfish, which emphasized the message that we should welcome new experiences even if they turn out not to be for us. Holm’s books are ideal for fostering conversation. Readers will learn about influential scientists, while the characters battle issues such as puberty and awkward first dates. (Ages 9+)
Aru Shah and the End of Time (A Pandava Novel, Book 1)byRoshani Chokshi. Readers who enjoyed Perry Jacksona nd The Heroes of Olympus series by author Rick Riordan will undoubtedly expand their knowledge of Greek and Roman mythology to include the Indian gods and goddesses. In this story, the heroes are heroines linked to the gods set in modern times. Key themes include magic and fantasy, adventure, friendship, misfits and underdogs, and monsters, ghosts, and vampires. (Ages 9 to 12)
A Warning of Books for Ages 12+
As “trends” continue, parents must be aware of the surprising content found in current publications of preteen and teen literature. While the books may offer positive messages and strong role models, the content may also include foul language, graphic violence, sexual situations and favors, and teen drug and alcohol abuse. If parents are pleased to see preteens and teenagers reading, the decision to read along can be a subtle excuse to discuss challenging themes.